Cup fright for Newcastle

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It took a sea monster and a team of frightened horses to destroy Hippolytus, the tragic figure of Greek mythology, but in the end Lee Bowyer was enough to end manager Johnson Hippolyte's dreams of leading his Yeading side into the FA Cup fourth round.

The frightened team, at least for 51 minutes, were Newcastle, who seemed to be battling not merely a side 123 places below them in the league structure, but also their own shortcomings and an apparently mystical force that protected Delroy Preddie's goal. "In the first half we just didn't compete enough," manager Graeme Souness admitted. An example of this was Laurent Robert, someone for whom over-competitiveness is rarely a concern. After only two minutes he found himself eight yards out and with the goal seemingly at his mercy after Shola Ameobi's flick-on, but he wagged a foot tamely at the ball and saw it dribble harmlessly to Preddie's feet.

From then until half-time, Preddie seemed impregnable. Bowyer stabbed wide from three yards, Craig Bellamy thumped the bar from 10 and Jermaine Jenas had a shot pushed wide. But for Steve Harper's superb save low to his right from David Clarke's free-kick, Yeading could even have been ahead at the break.

Carl Gritt, one of Yeading's founders and still a board member, had spoken of a dream in which his side were level at half-time but ended up "getting well beat" and, if he exaggerated the margin, his prophesying was otherwise accurate. So concerned was Souness by the way DJ Campbell was outpacing Titus Bramble that he withdrew the defender at half-time.

Ameobi, who had an excellent game, slipped in Bellamy six minutes after half-time, and when he squared, Bowyer was presented with the simplest of tap-ins. Ten minutes later Ameobi got the goal his performance deserved, steering Darren Ambrose's free-kick into the bottom corner with a firm header to confirm Newcastle's progress.

Arsenal also had a series of scares before narrowly overcoming Stoke City of the Championship. The Premiership champions went behind on half-time as defender Wayne Thomas scored, but José Antonio Reyes equalised five minutes after the break and Robin van Persie scored the winner in the 70th minute.

* Celtic striker John Hartson enjoyed a weekend to remember. On Friday he signed a contract extension that will keep him at the Glasgow club until May 2007, and on Sunday he scored the winner against Old Firm rivals Rangers as Celtic won the third-round Scottish Cup tie 2-1. This stretched their unbeaten run at home over Rangers to five years. Hartson's winner came in the 77th minute and he also set up Chris Sutton's first-half goal. Rangers equalised a minute after the break through Fernando Ricksen's header.

* Barring an extraordinary combination of results next week, Zurich Premiership leaders Leicester are out of the Heineken Cup following their 21-17 defeat at home to Biarritz, writes Huw Richards at Welford Road. The French club, only sixth in their own championship, slew the Tigers by strangling them with forward power in a one-sided first half that started with lock Jerome Thion's try from the penalty-line-out-maul routine patented by Leicester, continued with a score by wing Jimmy Marlu and ended with Biarritz 18-0 up.

The second half was one long Leicester siege, but superbly organised defence and some last-gasp tackling kept the French line inviolate until the final five minutes. Then tries from replacement wing Freddie Tuilagi and scrum-half Harry Ellis earned a bonus point and kept them a toe-hold in the competition. Biarritz, who completed a rare double over the formidable Tigers, will progress if they avoid defeat next week at home to Wasps, while Leicester must win at Calvisano and hope other results go their way.

Elsewhere, England hooker Steve Thompson's late solo score put Northampton in pole position for a best runners-up spot in the quarter-finals with a 22-20 win at Llanelli, eliminating their hosts and leaving Gwent Newport Dragons as the last Welsh hope. Wasps thrashed Calvisano 45-14, meaning that the Heineken Cup holders must now claim a maximum five-point haul away at Biarritz next Saturday and deny their hosts a losing bonus point in order to book their place in the knockout stages.

* Jonny Wilkinson's injury jinx has struck again. England's World Cup-winning hero will miss his country's opening two Six Nations games next month, against Wales in Cardiff and France at Twickenham, after suffering a partial medial ligament tear in a knee during Newcastle's 33-12 Heineken Cup defeat at Perpignan on Saturday.

The injury - the outside-half's third serious ailment during the past year - is expected to sideline him for six weeks, and his chances of playing for the world champions against Ireland on February 27 are probably 50-50 at best.

* British boxer Ricky Hatton looks set to fulfil his ambition of a contest with world light-welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu of Australia. Tszyu has confirmed he is to defend his IBF title against Hatton in Manchester on June 5.

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